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Title: The philosophical underpinnings of being as foundations of just cross-cultural dialogue : a comparative study of Kantian thought and 'African' political theory
Author: Bird, Gemma Kristina
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 0967
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis asks whether foundational principles exist, from which meaningful and just cross-cultural dialogue can take place to establish international principles of conduct, interactions and law. It claims that this will offer a possible and viable response to the concerns surrounding the homogenising nature of universalism, and the often imperialist justifications underlying it in cases of international principle formation and application. This is achieved by postulating Kantian notions of internal self-law giving and external willkür as potential foundational principles. It then seeks to question the validity of these claims through an examination of African political theory. The purpose of this is to look at African political theory for ideas equal to, or similar in foundation to, notions of internal and external self-law giving. The aim is to establish an analytical framework through which the principles of internal and external self-law giving can be operationalised for usage in the textual analysis; defining the analytical framework as including the concepts of freedom of choice versus domination, equality of individuals and self-mastery as representing the overarching principles of internal and external self-law giving. Following on from this Chapter 2 locates the thesis within the wider literature through a discussion of culture, universalism and relativism in both the Western liberal and African traditions. It establishes the role of this thesis in arguing that these foundations can form the basis for open and just cross-cultural dialogue. Finally the main body of the work focuses on a selection of schools of African political thought, or collection of thinkers, which have been grouped together based on similarities in their views or the individual's claimed membership to a particular ideology or system of thought. Within the work of each group of thinkers the thesis seeks to locate the principles of internal and external self-law giving. This thesis contributes to the ever growing literature surrounding the topic of comparative political theory. It supports a model of weak universalism premised on the understanding of foundational principles that can be approached and responded to in culturally specific ways: whilst also respecting individual autonomy and personhood. In concluding it is suggested that an argument can be made for the necessity for open, honest and fair cross-cultural dialogue that is justified by, and respectful of, these principles as existing at the centre of political discourse in both the Kantian model and the selection of African political theory examined by this project. It can therefore be argued that this thesis establishes an evidence base for the potential a priori nature of the principles of internal self-law giving and external willkür: understood as freedom of choice, self-mastery and equality of individuals. This thesis thus makes the recommendation that these principles should be recognised and respected as foundations of, and central to, just and fair cross-cultural dialogue.
Supervisor: Graham, Harrison ; Garrett, Brown Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available